At the risk of tempting fate, or any other mysterious force that might catch wind, summer has largely settled here, and the garden grows: grows away from the sorry spring’s torrential woes. Almost six months to the day after telling Mary, “it doesn’t get much worse than this”, as we picked chilled salad with frozen hands, I lined up with apprentices Dean and Adam, peered through the riot of companion flowers and onto the verdant greens of youthful glasshouse and field crops, and muttered, “this is as good as it gets.”
Both statements are a shadow of the truth. Winter has its share of comforts and joys, of course; all seasons, all days, have their moments of paradise, their hours of grind. Yet, all things being equal, the garden in early summer is at its most alive: lush spring leaf overlaps with fresh summer flowers and exuberant ripe fruits: no other time can hold these three crucial ingredients in such measure.
Our early fruits are strawberries and broad beans (the latter are, after all, fruiting vegetables). And this week’s harvest will be as bumper as any other this year: the autumn beans have been caught by the spring sown stock; the maincrop strawberries reached the red of the earlies: all round, a time of crescendo. We are very grateful to Inspiral and Growing Communities for giving us an outlet for the abundance, and saving us from the unthinkable: crops rotting “on the vine”.
Both are time-consuming to pick, something I perhaps should have considered when I plumped for filling the Old Kitchen Garden with broad beans whilst plotting the planting plan in the depths of December, but hey. To be up early doors, on a fine summers’ morn, or even a damp one, as the birds begin to find their voice: a flask of coffee, some friends, and more beans than I’ve ever eaten. Moments like this.